Would you ask for help from a person that you knew disliked you? Or would you ask for money from someone you knew to be wealthy but stingy and hard hearted? No, we most likely would not and would instead look for someone who did like us or who was wealthy and generous.
Similarly, what we believe about God, deep down in our hearts, not just in our minds, has an impact in how we pray. If we struggle to believe that God is for us, that He loves us and even likes us, and that He is predisposed to help us, then we will also struggle to pray with much faith. And Jesus tells us that we need faith to pray. Let’s look briefly at a couple of passages.
Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.
9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:5-13, New Living Translation)
Jesus is teaching us that prayer requires perseverance, that you will have to “keep on asking” with “shameless persistence”, and it will feel like God is a reluctant friend. But He is not! Yet how often do we feel that He is reluctant and thus we stop asking.
Jesus reminds us that even though we are sinful, we know how to give good things to our children when they ask us. Thus “how much more will your heavenly Father give” not only the Holy Spirit but also good things (Matthew 7:11, parallel passage) to those who keep asking. I like the New Living here because it translates the verb tense accurately, “keep asking”. That is Jesus’ big point, it takes persistence.
If you believe God is your heavenly Father who accepts you just the way you are and loves to give good things to you, it will empower you to pray. Therefore we need to meditate upon this passage, and upon the names of God which will encourage our faith about the true nature of the Father. He wants to heal us from our mistrust and doubts.
Finally, Jesus said this bold promise: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24, NIV). I have trouble believing this! But the more I get to know the Lord as my good heavenly Father, the more I pray with faith that I can receive that for which I am praying.
Let’s press into knowing the Lord as our heavenly Father, growing to believe that He is good and more kind than we are, so that we boldly ask in prayer for good things and for His will to be done in our lives.
Learning with you,